ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There are a lot of New Mexicans packing heat these days and there was a huge surge last year in the number of people getting their concealed carry licenses.
KRQE News 13 wanted to know what’s behind it. It turns out, it depends on who you ask.
The firing range at Calibers off of I-40 is a busy place.
Jordan Nighbert is the director of training and teaches concealed carry classes.
“Every year, Calibers licenses thousands upon thousands of individuals,” Nighbert said.
In 2012, the Department of Public Safety says almost 4,800 licenses were issued around New Mexico. In 2013, that number shot up to more than 10,600.
“This is absolutely, 100 percent a great thing,” Nighbert said.
So, why the recent spike?
“They’re getting the training not because they want to carry a gun to feel tough, but because they want to be properly informed on what they need to do and how they need to responsibly act with that firearm,” Nighbert said.
Nighbert downplays the idea that talks over tighter gun laws since the Newtown school massacre a year ago are to blame.
One permit holder we talked to agrees with Nighbert.
“People need to protect themselves, and quite frankly, they need to protect themselves from people who don’t obey the law,” Rachel Severinghaus said.
In New Mexico, a person must be 21 years of age or older, pass a background check and a firearms test to get their concealed carry permit.
The DPS though believes the increase is tied to talks of tougher laws and people expressing their rights as gun owners.
Nighbert says Calibers offers three training classes each month and they’re booked through May.